HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 24, 2012 – More than 500 people now have access to purified water, vitamins and safe close-fire stoves thanks to High Point University students who traveled to Guatemala for fall break.
Fifteen students raised more than $20,000 and traveled to the small village of Chuisajcaba II, Guatemala for the fourth year in a row on Oct. 13 – 21. While there, they built 83 close-fire stoves and gave vitamins and water purifiers to more than 500 people. The close-fire stoves replaced open fire pits in homes that cause respiratory problems, birth defects and a dangerous environment.
Dylan Robinson, a senior political science major, has been on the alternative trip to Guatemala for three years. He was born in Guatemala and adopted by American parents at 8 months old, so the trip holds special meaning for him.
“I have gained so much from these trips,” says Robinson. “Every trip is different in its own way and teaches me a lot about myself. Since I was born and adopted from Guatemala, I love that I get the chance to give back to the country where I came from. It definitely puts your life in a different perspective.”
The alternative fall break trips impact each student’s life allowing them to take away experiences that follow them back to High Point and influence their community.
“As a student, it just makes me more aware of my community and helps me model the university’s value of service. I believe that you can learn a lot not just in the classroom but in the community that surrounds you,” says Robinson.
“We value civic engagement, and this is just one opportunity that is made available to our students,” says Gail Tuttle, vice president for student life. “In the HPU community, we teach the value of generosity and giving, but to model it in the way of application and real life, this is what a holistic education is all about. Our students care deeply for those in need and this is evident by each student’s ability to raise $1,500 for Guatemalan families to have stoves and clean water.”
The Guatemala Alternative Fall Break was one of three trips taken during the HPU Fall Break. Another trip was taken to Alabama. The two trips mark the eighth year in partnership between HPU and Oak Ridge United Methodist Church, and the 17th and 18th alternative break trips made together since the fall of 2005. A third trip, taken by senior Maggie Sturdevant, was made to Louisiana.
Other projects in past years have included flood recovery in Iowa, Atlanta and Nashville; hurricane response in Texas; a food gleaning project in Orlando; a safe-housing project in Florida; hurricane relief in Mississippi; and similar Alabama and Guatemala trips taken last year.